ROBERT Blackburn from Hoyland has taught thousands of children and adults to swim during his time as a swimming instructor.

But he has also spent many hours in the water himself raising money for many charities that he has supported over the years.

This year marks his ten-year anniversary of his fundraising and he is hoping his latest adventure will take him past the £11,000 mark.

Today Robert, who works at Royston Leisure Centre, is swimming in the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere to raise money for Barnsley Hospital’s neonatal unit.

Robert said: “I will be raising money as the fund goes towards helping the tiny babies who are born prematurely.

“This means a lot to me as one of my friends had a lot of help from the hospital.

“It was one of the hardest times they went through in their lives I have been raising money since I first started way back in 2013 and to date I’ve raised a total of £10,407.57 for different charities.

“I’m looking forward to taking part in the swim because it means I will be raising money again for charity but it’s a bit scary as well as I’ll be in the water for about an hour and a half and you’re never sure how cold the water is going to be.

“It’ll be worth it though I was hoping to raise about £600 but have already passed in excess of £800.

“My friends and their children were featured in a film made to launch the Tiny Hearts Appeal at the hospital and I will be giving them the money so that they can present it to the hospital.”

Causes that Robert has helped in the past include the Alzheimer’s Society, Macmillan, Bluebell Wood, the RNLI and Cancer Research.

He has been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award by Barnsley Hospital Charity which said in its nomination: “The Windermere challenge isn’t Robert’s first challenge he has a long history of raising funds for many different causes and wears his heart on his sleeve being the first to step up and help out in times of need.”

Jane Mills, charity development manager said: “Robert is taking on an epic challenge and we thank Robert and all of his supporters for getting behind him to support our neonatal unit and provide equipment and activities which will help the unit to continue to champion family-centred care, which is a way of improving outcomes for babies as well as having psychological benefits for parents.”

Robert said of his nomination: “I’m over the moon it isn’t why you do these things but it is great for what you do to be recognised.”

You can donate here: